Perceptions and Deceptions by Stanley Pranin

stanley-pranin-encyFrom Aiki News #89 (Fall 1991)

In our role as chroniclers of aikido and Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu we come into contact with a large number of adherents of different styles and approaches to these martial arts. The emphases of the various groups run the gamut from the physical and self-defense oriented all the way to the “spiritually” inclined styles for whom technique is of secondary importance. Despite these remarkable differences, I have often encountered a common characteristic in the mentality of the practitioners of these diverse persuasions. I will refer to it as the “true believer” syndrome.

Within the context of these groups, the main teacher takes on almost superhuman proportions and is regarded by members as unparalleled in technical ability and/or spiritual understanding. Although these true believers may not verbalize their conviction of their teacher’s superiority (in fact their opinions are usually expressed through innuendo), their words and manner leave little doubt as to their certainty in this regard.

Since my university years I have always had a keen interest in linguistics and, although my formal training in this discipline is not extensive, I have done a bit of reading out of fascination for the subject. One of the neural-linguistic theories enjoying some success in recent years holds that we as individuals have our own highly particularized representational systems that we use for interpreting and interacting with reality. The formulation of these systems is an attempt by individuals to make sense out of their environments, thereby making possible a meaningful stream of decisions and actions which affect all aspects of their lives.

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